The following is the text copy of a lecture given by Franklin T. Puckett at the Florida Christian College Lectures on February 19, 1963, and reprinted in May 1963 in the Guardian of Truth Magazine (VII: 8, pp. 11-20). None of the following represents my personal views regarding the issues involved, nor does it reflect the current attitude, belief, or posture of Florida College or the Guardian of Truth Foundation today. It is presented as a historical testament to the posture of many white Christians in the 1960s toward black people and the civil rights movement.
The Messiah and Racial Problems
The subject assigned to me is one of the most explosive topics a man could be given today. I lay no claim to being an expert on this subject, nor do I think myself capable of solving all difficulties which arise in the field of racial relations. In all sincerity, I approach this discussion with “fear and trembling.” So many people have fixed opinions on the race question and deliberately close their minds and hearts to any delineation of facts or presentation of arguments which do not harmonize with those opinions. Emotionalism often shuts out realism, and sectional bias frequently closes the door on factual truth. Because of these factors, it is easy for one to be misunderstood. For these reasons I have written out what I want to say on this subject, so that I, at least, will know what I have said.
Every person who loves truth should be willing to study patiently’ objectively, and dispassionately every piece of evidence which may contribute to a better understanding of the subject. You may disagree with some of the things which I shall say, but please be fair enough to consider me honest and sincere, with an earnest desire both to know and to teach the truth on this or any other subject to which I am assigned. Let it be understood that I speak only for myself, and in no way represent the thinking of this school or any church in the matters to be discussed. I have not discussed this subject with any member of the administration or faculty of Florida Christian College, and they should not be held responsible for anything I say.
The Messiah and His Teaching
I turn my attention first to the Messiah and His teaching. The Hebrew term “Messiah” means “anointed.” It corresponds to the Greek term “Christ,” and was so translated in the Greek Version of the Old Testament made by the Seventy. In the Old Testament, the term was used of kings and priests, who were consecrated to God by the ceremony of anointing. It was applied to the priest only as an adjective, while its substantive form was reserved for the king. Gradually it came to have special application to the ideal king of ‘prophetic expectation, and finds its complete fulfillment in the Christ of the apostles — the king of kings, the “anointed’ of God.
The teaching of the Messiah embodies the revelation of God’s divine wisdom, and expresses the law of His “anointed” king. The Messiah insisted that His work had its origin in God, and not in himself. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise… I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:19, 30). He also claimed that the very words which He spake came from God. “I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him” (John 8:26). And again, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49). It is evident that the teaching of Christ is the teaching of God.
This teaching the Messiah delivered to His disciples whom He trained to carry His message to the habitable earth. In His prayer to God just before His betrayal and crucifixion, he said: “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the, words which thou gayest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they believed that thou didst send me” (John 17:7,8). “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). From these statements, we can clearly see that the message of God was delivered by the Messiah to His chosen disciples. Men will be brought to believe on Him “through their word” (v. 20).
These witnesses were to wait about beginning the proclamation of that message to the world until they were endued with power from on high (Lk. 24:49). They were to receive this power when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:8). Jesus had promised that when the Holy Spirit should come, “he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). He further stated: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:13). Thus they were given supernatural guidance to insure the integrity of their message as they proclaimed it unto the world.
The reception of their message is the reception of God’s divine wisdom, which is stamped with the authority of His anointed king. To these disciples, Jesus had said: “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (Mt. 10:40). And again, “He that heareth you heareth me: and he that rejecteth you rejecteth me: and he that rejecteth me rejecteth him that sent me” (Lk. 10: 16). When, therefore, anything is taught by and authorized in the gospel as preached by the inspired apostles. This is the teaching of the Messiah. And he who learns that teaching, learns Christ (Eph. 4:20; 1:13). Consequently, anything taught in the New Covenant of our Lord, and which bears upon racial problems, is the teaching of the Messiah upon this subject.
The World and Its Racial Problems
As I turn to racial problems. I turn to one of the most vexing themes of our day. The human family is made up of a multiplicity of races. When I was a boy in school, we were taught that there are five distinct races of men–white, brown, red, yellow, and black. Within these broad categories, there are sub-divisions which break down into nationalities, tribes, and families. All of these races possess distinctive peculiarities in body structure and emotional mechanism. These differences naturally tend toward the development of problems.
Whence came these different races of men? How did they originate? Since racial differences promote racial problems, why do they exist? If any of you preachers out there know exactly how these different races originated, I wish you would inform me. Some think they find the origin of the negro in the Hamitic curse of Genesis 9:25. I must confess that I have been unable to so account for their origin. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states: “Of the nationalities as descending from Ham, none can be described as really black” (Vol. II, p. 1324). Of course many of them were dark, but there is nothing to indicate that they were negroid. It should be remembered that the curse extended only to Canaan, Ham’s son. There is nothing in either the record of Canaan’s descendants, or the borders of their habitation, that suggests a relation to the negroes of Africa! But, if one could account for the negro race by this argument, on what basis would he account for the other races?
The evolutionist wants to account for the origin of the races on the ground of geographical incident and climatic condition. But this theory is fraught with so many difficulties, it becomes too absurd to be given serious consideration. Let him explain why people developing in similar geographical areas and under similar climatic conditions did not develop the same racial characteristics.
Of this much we can be certain: all races are of common parentage and common blood. People who believe the Bible accept the fact the whole human family sprang from Noah and his three sons after the flood (Gen. 7:1,13). Paul affirms that God “hash made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Why, then, do we have these different races? Perhaps the answer may be found in the confusion of tongues and scattering of the people at the building of the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:7-9), but whatever may be the explanation of how the races came into existence, God determined it and had a reason for it. Paul not only says that God hath made of one blood all nations, but he also says he “hash determined the times before appointed and: the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26).
Since the origin of the races, the world has had its racial problems. History is filled with the conflicts of races and nations and tribes. The world today is troubled and the welfare of humanity is being trampled under foot by racial strife. This condition cannot be limited to one particular area of all blame attached to one particular race. The problem is general and all races are to some extent responsible for the difficulty.
The South has its racial problems in the schools, businesses, labor ranks, and society. Strife torn areas like Anniston, Montgomery, Little Rock, Albany, and Oxford bear testimony to this fact. Wide coverage was given to all these incidents through the various channels of communication and the whole world was appraised of what was happening in the deep South. White papers were read, biased reports given, and propaganda scattered which made the white population of our Southland appear ignorant, brutal, and devoid of respect or concern for a poor, downtrodden race whose basic rights were being denied. While it must be admitted that in some instances the negroes have been restricted and exploited to serve the greed and arrogance of certain whites, it is also true that as a whole the white people of the South have been the best friends and the greatest benefactors the negroes have found anywhere. Progress was being made and the welfare of negroes was being greatly improved before many of our present problems developed. In general their condition was far better in the South than it was in the tenement slums and crowded Ghettoes of the North.
The North likewise has its racial problems in the schools, businesses, labor ranks, and society. The North should sweep the trash off of its own doorstep before it complains about the debris on the portals of the South. The old adage “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones! ” is still true. I lived for several years in Akron, Ohio, and know something of the general attitude of northern whites toward negroes. While having token integration of public facilities, there is still segregation in many areas of life. Negro housing sections are as definitely distinct in northern cities as they are in the South. Visit Chicago, New York, Washington, D. C., and see for your self. If a negro breaks the color line and buys a house in a white area, the general reaction is: the whites sell as quickly as possible and move to another area where there are no negroes. Because the negroes have flooded the nation’s capital since the Supreme Court decision of 1954, most of the whites have left the District and moved to all white sections in adjoining states. I quote a news article by Morris Cunningham, dated Washington, February 11, 1963: “The District population has been ‘fluid’ for some years, particularly since public schools were racially integrated in September, 1954. As more negroes moved in, more whites moved out. One formerly all white residential area in the District after another has been taken over by Negroes.” Even the president’s brother–the Attorney General–has moved across the Potomac to live in an all white section in the good old southern state of Virginia. If these politicians believe the philosophy they are trying to legally enforce upon others, why do they not practice what they preach?
The city of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, does not have negroes living inside the city limits, or at least that was true when I left that area two years ago. The real estate dealers will not sell property to a negro. One tried it about three years ago, and the neighbors almost mobbed him. The deal was canceled. After listening to an Akron woman, who owned several rental apartments, bemoan the terrible condition of the negro down South, I asked her if she would rent one of her apartments to a negro. Immediately and forcefully she replied, “No!” I wonder why? Was she drawing the color line?
At an Akron high school a few blocks from where I lived a race riot broke out among the students and the whites and blacks fought all over the school ground. Not a word about this incident was ever printed in the papers. A battle between whites and negroes was fought by students in a Barberton, Ohio, school. Only a very brief report was given in the papers and it was hidden in the back pages so it would scarcely be noticeable. If these incidents had happened in the South, every northern newspaper would have carried banner headlines and the airwaves would have been glutted by the reports. Why the difference? The race riot on Thanksgiving Day, in a Washington D.C., stadium, when thousands of negroes poured out of the stands to attack the whites after their team had been defeated on the field, and in which more than 500, mostly whites, were injured, was kept hushed as long as possible. The papers tried to keep it hidden and official Washington denied the racial element of this incident, but the facts finally forced them to admit rather sheepishly that they have a racial problem too. Even the president has timidly agreed that “there is social unrest” in the capitol.
Frederick B. Harris, chaplain of the Senate, recently said “tragic changes” have occurred in the capitol city. “It has come to pass that even in the so-called best parts of the city no woman dare walk the streets alone after dark, and often not in day-light… There are dangerous situations when silence is not golden but craven. No matter what the fundamental causes may be, or the suggested solutions for the future which must master our best thought, we find ourselves dealing with a terror-haunted present.” The Kennedy Clan and their political backers will do well to straighten out their racial problems at home before they start telling others what they must do, or their lip service to law and order will be properly classified as purely hypocrisy.
In the early history of the NAACP, it was largely financed by the Labor Unions. At one time, the CIO poured $75,000 into their treasury to help them press segregation suits in Virginia, Kansas, South Carolina, and Delaware. Now the NAACP is battling with the Unions! Organized labor has created a Frankenstein and is no longer able to control it. Not long ago George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO, and A. Phillip Randolph, head of the Negro Labor Council, engaged in a heated public battle over union policy and negro aims. Regarding those aims, Loren Miller, vice president of NAACP, says the new Negro leaders are “rebelling” against their white liberal patrons. White liberals, he says, want to reduce racial tensions. Negroes are willing to raise tension to make progress. White liberals urge equal treatment for Negroes. Negro activists frankly demand preferential treatment to make up for past “injustices.” The statements are taken from an article by Robert S. Boyd, under dateline Washington, Nov. 21, 1962. It is to be noticed that the NAACP no longer respects the people who spawned them; they are rebelling against them. They no longer desire equal treatment; they demand preferential treatment. In October of 1962, Herbert Hill, labor secretary for the NAACP, filed a series of legal actions in the Federal Courts against a number of unions. Meany exploded! He said it made co-operation between the AFL-CIO and the NAACP impossible. I am reminded of the little daughter of my niece. One day she had made such a nuisance of herself that her mother in exasperation cried: “Honey, I don’t know what to do with you!” Without batting an eye the little tyke replied: “Well, you borned me! You’ll just have to put up with me!” Yes, the North has its racial problems too!
These problems are not limited to our own country, they are found in every part of the world. South Africa with its apartheid; the Congo with its conflicts; the Far East with its struggles. There is conflict between the whites and the blacks, the yellows and the browns, the Jews and the Gentiles
These conflicts arise in both segregated and non-segregated areas, and often are more intense in the integrated areas than in the segregated. Then segregation is not the cause of these conflicts and integration is not the cure for them. The basic cause and cure lie much deeper than these outward manifestations. The trouble stems from a wrong attitude of heart toward one another, and the cure lies in correcting that attitude. We should lay the ax to the root of the tree instead of merely trying to pluck off and cast away its fruit. Now, what is the Messiah’s teaching about a Christian’s responsibility with reference to these world problems?
The Messiah’s Kingdom in a Troubled World
In answering this question, we should first of all determine the nature of Messiah’s kingdom. His kingdom is spiritual — not worldly. “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). It is not a kingdom promoted by carnal means. ” For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men” (Rom. 14:17,18). The realm of operation is spiritual–not material (Eph. 2:6; 6: 12). Christians sit with Christ in heavenly places–an expression used to denote the spiritual realm as distinguished from the material — and in that realm wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. The law governing the subjects of the kingdom is spiritual — not civil (Rom. 8: 2) . The service rendered by them is spiritual– not political (Rom. 1:9; 12:1). The weapons used in prosecuting war against evil are spiritual — not carnal (2 Cor. 10:3-5). “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; ) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
The Messiah’s Teaching Concerning the Divine Attitude Toward All Men
In waging this spiritual war against spiritual wickedness, one must discern the divine attitude toward men and reflect that attitude. The love of God for all men is demonstrated in the gift of His Son (John 3: 16; Rom. 5:6-8). The grace of God, and the salvation made possible by that grace, is to be proclaimed to all men alike (Rom. 1: 16; Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15, 16; Lk. 24:46,41; Acts 1:8). But, notwithstanding His love and the extension of His grace, God condemns sin in all men alike (Rom. 3:9, 19; Gal. 3:22; 1 John 5:19). “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” … “the whole world lieth in wickedness.” God requires obedience of all men alike (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; Acts 10:34,35). God will judge all men by the same standards (Rom. 2:2, 6, 16). And with God there is no respect of persons (Rom. 2: 11; Rev. 20:11-15). Therefore, the provisions of God’s grace for the salvation of all men and His condemnation of sin are without distinction on the basis of race, nationality, color, or position (Rom. 10:11-13; Gal. 3:26-29; 1 Tim. 2:3,4).
The Messiah’s Divine Law Governing His Citizens in Their Attitude Toward All Men
The divine attitude toward all men must be the attitude of all who become partakers of the divine nature. Christians must love all men. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 5:44,45). “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king” (1 Pet. 2:17). “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are “hereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing” (1 Pet. 3:8,9).
As opportunity presents itself, Christians must do good to all men. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6: 10). “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5: 13- 15).
Christians must show no respect of persons–an expression that means to receive according to face. “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, ye commit sin, and are convicted of the law as transgressors” (Jas. 2:1,9). Jude declares that God will take vengeance on those whose “mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s person in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 16v.). Let us compare Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 12: 23-26, “And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but (God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”
To the extent that these truths take effect in and exercise control over the lives of God’s people, racial problems, as well as all other problems of like nature, will for them be solved.
The Messiah’s Teaching Reveals That These Principles of Righteousness May Be Practiced Without Requiring the Abolition of Social and Political Distinctions Which Lawfully Exist in Civil Relations
Notwithstanding the equality of the relation and service in the spiritual realm, there is another principle revealed in the teaching of the Messiah that must be recognized and respected. The practice of righteousness does not require, as some have erroneously concluded, the abolition of social and political distinctions in the civil realm. Christians move in both the spiritual and civil realms, but the relations of one are not always the relations of the other, and what is true of one is not necessarily true of the other. There have always been–and always will be– social distinctions in the civil realm which do not exist in the spiritual; nor is their existence out of harmony with New Testament Christianity. A failure to recognize this truth is responsible for much of the confusion relative to racial problems.
The acceptance and practice of Christianity did not abolish the civil relation of husband and wife (l Cor. 7:10; 14), and we see both the spiritual and civil relations placed harmoniously side-by-side, yet each sustains its separate character. While in the spiritual relation there is neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28), the husband is the head of the wife and she is required to be subject to him in the social realm (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18, 19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7). Even in the spiritual functions of the local church where both male and female are equally related to God, the social distinction remains; and the woman is commanded to be in subjection “as also saith the law” (1 Cor. 14:34,35). She is restrained from equally sharing in all the activities permitted to men (1 Tim. 2:11, 12). Though equal in the spiritual realm, they are not equal in the civil realm; yet there is no lack of harmony in the Messiah’s teaching. If we can but see this point, it will help us keep our feet on the ground when dealing with the racial problem.
The acceptance and practice of Christianity did not abolish the relation or lessen the obligation of parents and children. Parents still exercise authority over the children and the children are required to be in submission and give honour unto the parents (Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20,21). The acceptance and practice of Christianity did not abolish the civil relation of ruler and subject (Rom. 13: 1-7; l Pet. 2.13-15). Christians must respect and obey established civil authority, unless such is contrary to divine law (Acts 5:29). The exaltation of one and the subjection of the other is not out of harmony with Christian principles or contrary to the inherent rights of either.
When Christianity was introduced into the world, slavery was practiced on a broad scale in the Roman Empire. Both master and slave had equal access and privilege to the spiritual blessings in the spiritual relation. In that realm there was no distinction between them and one was not above the other (Gal. 3:28), but in the civil realm the master still remained a master and the slave was still a slave. The acceptance and practice of Christianity did not break that relation but only required that each fulfill more perfectly his duty in it. In so doing each would be serving the Lord Christ. (Read Eph. 6: 5-9; Col. 3:22-4:1; 1 Tim. 6:1-5: Cf. Philem. 10-19vv.).
Neither social distinction nor civil relation was to be regarded as a hindrance, or a matter of concern, to a Christian. Guided by the Spirit of God, Paul wrote: “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in un- circumcision? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant” (1 Cor. 7:17-22). This is equivalent to saying, Is any called being a Jew? Let him not become a Gentile. Is any called being a Gentile? Let him not become a Jew. This dealt with the racial problem then, and Paul proceeds to show that this should occasion no concern. Being a Jew is nothing, and being a Gentile is nothing, but the doing of God’s will is. Let each remain in his own state without being concerned over external matters, but rather concern himself with the doing of God’s will. Applied to our present problem: Is any called being black? Let him not become white. Is any called being white? Let him not become black. Being black is nothing, and being white is nothing, but the doing of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the calling wherein he was called. If both the whites and the blacks would practice this instruction, they would be unconcerned about the color of their skin or the changing of the external customs stemming therefrom; instead they would be devoted to the practice of the will of God within their respective spheres. In this connection, may I give some very fine statements made by Mr. G. W. Walker, a Negro minister and the publisher of the National Christian Magazine. Mr. Walker says in part:
“We have been given the assignment, the responsibility, the duty, and the obligation:
” 1. To teach the Negro the plain and simple view that he has customs, background, consciousness and fundamental characteristics of his own and that he must develop these or else cease to exist as an ethnical identity in America . . .
“3. To convince the Negro not to desert his own schools, clubs, institutions and churches, but, instead, he must develop them until they are where they should be–on a par with the whites’….
” 5. To inform him of the truth, that he has a date with destiny and he cannot keep his date if he integrates and amalgamates with the white race, because this is the sure road or way to a lost race.
“6. To prove to the Negro that integration and race mixing are lethal methods of robbing him of his last chance and only chance to stand on his own two feet and develop a social order of his own, one which he and his true friends can be proud of…
“8. To teach him to stop wanting to be the uninvited guest (rather stranger) in the homes of others and in the places and areas prescribed for others.
9. To show the Negro that what he really needs for his further advancement and betterment in America is the right kind of education and training, rather than a closer association with white people.
“10. To teach him that aping the white man and trying to be white will dupe him out of his self-respect and the respect of others…
“13. To teach the Negro that there is a vast difference between the white man and himself and that this actual fact must be recognized and dealt with from a realistic and objective point of view.
“14. To teach him that he has many fine qualities, such as kindness, courtesy, loyalty, cheerfulness gaiety, etc., which are admired and respected by the other races in America and that these fine qualities should be capitalized upon….
“16. To show him his many golden opportunities for greatness in the South, whicn he is not now utilizing and that he, like the white race, can make great achievements in the South.
“17. To prove to the Negro that it is not morally wrong for his true white friends in the South to wish him to develop his own ways of life, with their friendly help and cooperation, and to teach his own children in his own schools and homes to follow in his own footsteps…
“20. To convince the Negro that it is no disgrace or stigma on his race to be black instead of white and that it is more natural for him to be happier in his own traditions and in his own places than it is for him to be in the traditions and places of the white man….
“28. To convince the Negro that it is not necessary for him to attend integrated schools in the North or in the South, because his true advancement will come from within his own group….
“38. To teach the Negro to be proud of his own racial heritage and background and to build his future upon the good it has to offer, along with what he has acquired, here in America.”
These words of wisdom from a Negro minister and prominent publisher to the people of his own race, if accepted and applied, will do more to advance the true cause of the Negro, and to gain for him recognition and approval from other races, than all the political and legal maneuvering and social upheaval being fostered by the NAACP. With Mr. Walker’s sentiments I am in complete agreement. But let us return to the Messiah’s teaching as contained in 1 Cor. 7:2 1, 22.
“Wast thou being called a bondservant? Care not for it: nay, even if thou canst become free, use it rather.” (ARV) The apostle is saying, If you were called being a slave, don’t concern yourself about it. No even if you might become free, make use of your slavery rather to demonstrate obedience to God. Paraphrased for the present, it might read, Were you called in segregation? Do not be concerned about it. No, even if you may be integrated, use your segregation rather to demonstrate your obedience- to God Of course the reverse of this would be also true. The passage certainly prohibits any Christian, white or black, from becoming an agitator in any movement to overthrow established relations though they may be discriminatory. The influence of Christianity is to be wielded, not by pressure politics or active rebellion, but by faithful, consecrated obedience to God.
Neither Christ nor His apostles ever sought to overthrow the existing civil relations and social distinctions of their day by the use of political schemes and social rebellion. At no time did faithful disciples foment strife or stir up insurrection even under the most trying social conditions. Why does anyone think that the Master will endorse the use of such methods today? We must admit that Christianity can be practiced in the midst, and as a part, of a society where social and political distinctions) exist, or else deny that it was practiced in the first century.
Some Principles Which Emerge From a Study of the Messiah’s Teaching
The reign of the Messiah is a spiritual reign over a spiritual kingdom composed of spiritual subjects. The spiritual subjects sustain a spiritual relation to each other and stand on the same spiritual level where there is to be no distinction made or respect of persons shown. But there are diversities of function and distinctions of relation in their earthly society. Furthermore, these distinctions do not destroy the equality of the saints, nor violate the prohibition against showing respect of persons.
This spiritual kingdom, though not of the world, is in a world which has political, social, national, and racial distinctions often established by law, or by customs which have come to have the force of law. Such distinctions are not to be set aside or arbitrarily disregarded by Christians, unless they contravene or violate divine law. To do so will hinder rather than assist the progress of Christianity. The influence of Christianity is to be extended through the teaching of truth as it is revealed in the gospel and by the practice of righteousness in the humble, consecrated lives of God’s people, rather than by political means, pressure tactics, and forced intimidation.
If, by the practice of simple New Testament Christianity, an influence can be wielded upon world society, so that the effect thereof produces changes or modifications in its social distinctions and political standards, and thus creates a better and more wholesome social condition, then, let it be so! But neither the church as a collectivity, nor Christians as individuals, have any right or reason t o become involved in political or social movements whose design is to create strife in order to gain political ends or social advantage. These principles apply to both white and colored Christians. What is true of one is also true of the other.
Some Applications of These Principles to Present Racial Problems
What about Christians belonging to such organizations as the Ku Klux Klan, The White Citizens Council, or the NAACP? The principles which I have developed should answer the question. A white Christian has no business belonging to the Ku Klux Klan, which uses abuse and intimidation to gain its objectives, nor to the White Citizens Council, which uses political pressures and discriminatory judgments to accomplish its purposes. Christians should remain apart from the use of such methods. Neither should a negro Christian become a member of the NAACP, nor partake of its activities. You heard me read the statement of one of its vice presidents that it was willing to increase racial tension in order to gain its objectives, and that they were now demanding not equal but preferential rights. Such motives cannot be in the heart of any faithful Christian. Of the five men who founded the NAACP, all of them have been repeatedly named by the House Committee on Un-American Activities as belonging to Communist or Communist-front organizations. The present objectives of the NAACP are the objectives set forth by the Communist Party in America, in the Daily Worker, on May 26, 1928. It seeks to force its demands upon others by the use of pressure politics and high-powered racial propaganda. It has never come forth with any program for the development of the negro in the realm of economic, social, and moral responsibility. Its philosophy, it seems, is to get all and give nothing. No, I do not believe that a negro can belong to and participate in the activities of the NAACP and still be a faithful Christian.
What about the integration of the public schools? There are many reasons why I think that the forced integration of the public schools will be detrimental to both the white and the negro. In those schools where general desegregation has taken place under court order, the intellectual, moral, and disciplinary standards have been lowered to the detriment of both races. Carl Hansen, the Superintendent of the District of Columbia schools now hesitatingly admits that “the disciplinary problem in the schools has been aggravated so acutely that teachers have now reached the breaking point.” Statistics show that among girls in the 12 to 15 age group in the public schools of Washington, D. C. during the last school year there were 265 illegitimate births. Police are now being called to restore order in the classrooms. But whatever may be our objections to general desegregation, the civil authorities have decreed that the public schools should be desegregated, and Christians are required by the Messiah to be submissive to the powers that be. No Christian can rebel against an order handed down by the courts requiring a school to integrate. No Christian can rightly participate in mob resistance like that on the Old Miss Campus. On the other hand no true negro Christian will force his presence upon a campus to the detriment of others for his own personal gain. Christianity places responsibility upon the negro Christian as well as upon the white.
What about the integration of local congregations? I think it depends upon the circumstances and the motives which lie back of it. I do not believe that any faithful negro Christian can be denied the right to enter into a congregation and participate in the worship of God simply because he is a negro. Such would be showing respect of persons, and if ye have respect of persons ye commit sin. But if negroes seek to enter a white assembly for publicity purposes and to gain a political end or prove a point, they should be denied the right to enter and use the service of God for such propaganda reasons. It may not always be easy to tell what motives impel one, but when a group of negroes enter a white assembly and scatter all over the auditorium so that each one is sitting by himself, among whites, they are not there for religious purposes. Or when they wait till the service has started and then all march demonstratively down to the front instead of sitting where the ushers suggest, they are there to call attention to themselves and to make a point instead of worshipping God. Such actions are devoid of piety and constitute a disturbance of worship. They should be condemned for what they are and forbidden. Yet no negro Christian, who sincerely desires to worship God and properly conducts himself while doing so, should be denied access to the assembly of the saints.
Some Concluding Thoughts
In conclusion, may I leave these thoughts with you. “Let love be without hypocrisy” toward all men (Rom. 12:9). Remember that “love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemingly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (I Cor. 13:4-7). “Do good unto all men” and “recompense to no man evil for evil” (Gal. 6: 10; Rom. 12:17). “Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbor’s good” (I Cor. 10: 24). Let us not put a stumbling block in another’s way (Rom. 14:10-13, 16, 21; 1 Cor. 10:32).
There are many areas of the racial problem which have not been touched, and many legitimate objections to forced integration and riotous demonstrations which have not been developed, but I have sought to lay before you some Scriptural principles to guide our thinking in dealing with the problem. Other Scriptural truths may be adduced to further clarify proper Christian conduct in such matters, but these are sufficient for this discourse. I pray that good and only good will come from our study tonight. If I am in error at any point, I pray that I may learn the truth. If I have said more than I should have said, or if I have said less, I am sorry. If what I nave said is the truth, accept it because it is the truth. Now, may the blessings of God rest upon us all is my prayer.